The Morrison Government has backed down on its refusal to offer Victoria a short-term school funding deal. Source: The Age.
Commonwealth and state education officials spent the weekend hammering out a deal that could break the current impasse and deliver independent schools about $1.7 billion – half of their 2019 funding.
The Age understands the Prime Minister’s office became heavily involved in negotiations on Friday, helping stitch together a one-month deal that would pave the way for the state’s independent and Catholic schools to receive close to 50 per cent of their 2019 funding in January.
Victoria has been refusing to sign the five-year Gonski 2.0 deal put forward by the Morrison Government despite current funding agreement expiring on December 31.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino met with his federal counterpart Dan Tehan in Melbourne on Tuesday, but the pair failed to break the deadlock when the Morrison Government rejected Victoria's offer of a one-year school funding deal.
It risked leaving independent schools with no federal money in the new year – up to 80 per cent of their funding stream.
The sticking point has been the new National School Reform Agreements, under which the commonwealth provides up to 80 per cent of the funding for non-government schools and 20 per cent for state schools.
Victoria wants this lifted to 25 per cent, vowing to lift its own contribution over the next decade from 66 per cent, the lowest share in Australia, to 75 per cent.
Catholic Education Melbourne acting executive director Jim Miles said all schools should be properly funded, but it was too late in the year not to have resolved the stand-off.
“If schools do not receive their Commonwealth payment as scheduled in January, it is likely they will require bridging finance to pay their staff and continue operations,” he said.
“This unwarranted waste of money will make a mockery of talk of putting students first. The Victorian and Commonwealth Governments need to swallow their pride, end their standoff and reach an agreement that will let funds flow.”